Future interactions design: tapping the wisdom of the crowd

Preparing for the future
Preparing for the future

On April 3, I attended the Chi Sparks 2014 conference on human computer interaction, to present my paper on the Kids’ Knowledge Base. I also attended a highly interesting workshop on “Future Interactions”, hosted by Marco Rozendaal of  Delft University of Technology. His group is developing a method to let groups design scenarios of future interactions. As the workshop call stated:

Future Interactions’ focuses on emerging technologies (communication technology, nanotechnology etc.) that enrich our everyday lives and asks how they can be embodied in a meaningful way.

Design explores new horizons. How can design methods address promises and pitfalls of emerging technologies? How may these technologies transform our bodies, perceptions and behaviours?

The workshop participants were split in teams of two people.  We were first asked to select a couple of cardboard cards from a common pool, covering the main categories technologies, applications, and interactions

The cards to the future...
Our cards to the future…

Together with my “future buddy”, John Swarts, I selected the following cards:

  • [Technology: advanced manufacturing)] forever beta – “products that are never finished and always updated”
  • [Applications: professional] working life –  “performance, autonomy, and satisfaction”
  • [Applications: professional] lifelong learning – “lifelong learning, professionalism, and meta-learning”
  • [Interactions: society] politics – forms of political action

We chose these cards, as we believe the forever beta mode is the fundamental mode of the socio-technical design of society, involving all stakeholders as co-creators. That society is shaped by a working life in in which people are always learning from and with one another in networks and communities, without there being any stable knowledge hierarchies anymore. We added the political dimension, as we believe that such an informed, evolutionary, co-creative way of working & learning is not operating in a political vacuum, but should directly help shape the norms, values, and directions of the society of the future.

We then discussed how these cards could be merged into a “future design scenario”. Discussing a concrete case about innovation of elderly care, and inspired by the software design approach of “user-centered design”, we arrived at the idea of “society-centered design“. Such a concept would require much more than currently often the case a holistic multi-stakeholder approach to emergent, knowledge-driven ways of working and learning. This approach should be governed by _and_ frame the political framework in which these productive learning processes ought to take place. An early example of such society-centered design are the increasingly popular multi-stakeholder “living labs” sprouting everywhere, in which working concepts and political governance models for complex societal issues like care and education are being co-created by – ideally – all stakeholders involved.   

Evaluating the future
Evaluating the future

In the next step, all groups positioned their “draft concepts” on a large gameboard, the horizontal axis indicating how quickly a concept could be implemented (from “tomorrow” till the more distant future). Finally, each group made a 1-minute pitch for their concept, after which each participant could position a number of coins on the concepts (or their intersections) which they thought to be the most valuable and feasible (we were thrilled to see our “society-centered design”-concept to turn out to be one of the winners. We’re almost done with our accompanying future bestseller book 🙂 On a serious note: the popularity of this concept is another indicator that the time for the field of community informatics/communities & technologies has come, as they are all about societal sensemaking of the pros and cons of powerful (IC)Ts).

The Future Interaction design method reminds me very much of other pattern-based design methods, such as the Liberating Voices “pattern language for communication revolution” (see Ken Gillgren’s piece on “lifting every voice” for a great application of that language). The beauty of such socio-technical design methods is on the one hand the simplicity of their components and rules, and on the other hand, the endless ways in which these elements can be configured and used for scalable, intricate human sensemaking.  In the end, such methods are just catalysts, all the knowledge is in the heads of the participants. How to get that knowledge out of these heads and into socio-technical designs of politics, business, education, and every-day life & work is what such socio-technical sensemaking & design methods could help us accompish.

Though promising, there are still many open research questions on how to make these methods more effective, such as:

  • How to build rich sets of concepts/patterns/cards that are generic enough to be multi-purpose yet specific enough to trigger creative use?
  • How do such sets differ depending on their use, such as future interactions or “communication revolution” design?
  • What rules of the game help (1) elicit the most powerful configurations of patterns and (2) make sense of what these configurations mean?
  • How to document, share and disseminate the results?
  • How to enrich physical workshop sessions with digital preparatory and follow-up work?
  • How to make such insights actually influence policy-making and research?
To be continued in “future research”…

 

Communities & Technologies finally meeting Community Informatics

workshopI’m currently in Siegen, Germany. attending the Communities & Technologies Future Vision workshop. A main goal of the workshop is to build more common ground between the two very related fields of Communities & Technologies (C&T) and Community Informatics. We’re having very positive, fruitful discussions. To give you a flavor, here are the notes I just took of the discussion about the possible points of intersection in a breakout group consisting of Volker Wulf, Michael Gurstein, Susanne Bødker, Marcus Foth, and Aldo de Moor.

Common research themes
  • Societal role: the roles of communities in their various forms in society.
  • Common goals & Institutions. Community norms sometimes translate into goals, institutions.
  • “The Other”: Communities can also be against something, working on the boundaries, The Other.
  • Emergence of communities: the potential of communities to take a form and articulate itself, often in response to an external opportunity or threat. The time dimension is very important.
  • Context of communities: Is the goal to study communities or communities in a particular context? The latter: we should not just look at the narrow direct context of immediate users, but the broader (institutional) context and ecology. Essential in complex domains like health. E.g. the institutional sponsors.  Then you can also better tie in with practitioner communities, governance, etc.
  • Ecosystems of tools: communities do not just use one tool, they live in a whole ecosystem, a rich space of physical and online tools.
  • (At least in in the CI) it’s not so much about the development of new technologies but about how the effective use and appropriation of community technologies. How can we model and use rich, situated context that informs socio-technical systems design without constraining community behaviors?
  • (C&T) Explore new technologies and try them out in new communities. Make the opportunities that these tools offer available to communities. In an ethnographic way try to find the ways to help them transform communities.
  • In CI: the interesting problem is identified by the community, the socio-technical systems solution emerges in the collaborative response to the problem CT: the interesting problem is in the tool community potential.
  • The common theme is really about how the larger societal context meets the relevant community technologies.
Key research questions in the next 10 years:
  • The Surveillance Society, how the net is turning into a Societal Control Device. What are alternatives?
  • Governance: how do you govern systems, disaggregate governance of systems so that communities can be empowered. Is the local level accountable to the higher level, or the higher level accountable to the lower level? It’s a systems design question
  • Employment and wealth distribution
  • Put the local back in communities.
  • Inter-community issues: networks of communities, collaborating/intersecting/mashing/clashing communities
  • Make technological power (such as Big Data (and “tinkering technologies” such as 3D printing, Raspberry Pie) available to and usable by the people. How does it affect communities?
  • The notion of citizenship, not just users/consumers is key.
  • Migration, urbanization, depopulation: how can technologies strengthen sense of community?
  • Political activism, new ways of shaping democracy
Organization
  • Thematic conferences: more context-awareness should lead to more thematic conferences. Risk is that it scares away people working on other topics. There are all kinds of ways to deal with these, e.g. separate slots
  • Conference attendants could meet members of specific communities, and e.g. work with them in separate community-driven workshops. Could be too optimistic given the complexities of trying to ground academic discourse in practice. A workable approach could be to have sesssions where community members present their communities and their issues in very rich, informal ways, and have a well-facilitated discussion with the attending academics about some possible directions for addressing these issues. At the next edition of the conference, academics could then (also) present their follow-up (action) research jointly done with these communities on these cases in the more academically oriented slots, while continuing to give useful feedback in comprehensible and acceptable ways to the communities they have started to work with.
  • Turning it around: having “academic streams” in practitioner-oriented conferences.
  • Hybrid approaches are necessary in terms of different participants having different motivations needing different kinds of outcomes for the conference to be rewarding for them.
  • NB such innovative approaches are a lot of work, there is often a language barrier to be overcome, etc.
  • The range of potential funders does become much larger this way, e.g. government, corporate funding.
  • Ethical issues need to be taken care of very well: the communities participating are not in a zoo! What are legitimate ways of involving them?
  • The communities being researched should get a permanent community representation within the overal C&T community, so that trust can be built, criticism can be seen and shared, lessons can be learnt, more legitimate and useful longitudinal research can be done. E.g. the communities could have their own space within the overall C& community space, where they can present themselves in multimedia ways, comment on the research being done with them etc.
  • Various types of conferences: E.g. thematic conferences with invited people from the issues being focused on with dedicated funding, the overall academic conference should not be overall thematically-focused.
  • Boundary-spanning activities between various communities would be very valuable as a research (conference) strategy.
  • The Community Informatics community is large and diverse enough by now to help out contributing at least time-wise. Represent many different communities, a great context to work with.
  • We need to work on a (communications & activity) commons around which the Communities & Technologies and Community Informatics communities start to find more common ground.

Een social innovation ecosysteem voor Midden-Brabant

social innovation ecosysteemOp 16 september is er in het kader van de European Social Innovation Week een bijeenkomst gehouden over Midden-Brabant als “smart region”.  Een onderdeel van deze bijeenkomst was een discussie onder leiding van Hans Mommaas over hoe dat social innovation ecosysteem handen en voeten zou kunnen krijgen. Hier een informeel verslag voor degenen die niet bij deze bijzonder interessante discussie konden zijn.

Centrale vraag: hoe krijgen we een social innovation ecosysteem van de grond in de regio? Een voorbeeld zijn de Pathfinders.  In organisaties heb je de bestaande werkelijkheid en de exploratieve kant, die van de vernieuwing. “Transition leaders” zijn mensen die de mensen in hun organisatie kunnen meekrijgen voor die vernieuwing.  Ook die leaders hebben echter weer inspiratie nodig. In de  Pathfinders zijn 30 mensen bij elkaar gebracht uit organisaties die willen vernieuwen, met social innovation als uitgangspunt.  Doel was om de maatschappelijke thema’s door te vertalen naar oplossingen waar zowel de maatschappij als de organisaties wat mee kunnen. Ze zijn 15x bij elkaar geweest.  Een praktische doelstellng was om tot concrete business cases te komen.  De ervaring leerde echter dat zulke concrete cases moeilijk te realiseren waren. Wat wel werkte, was de aanwezige “ruimte voor toevalligheid”.  Het gaat hierbij niet zozeer om het geld, maar vooral om de beweging (de kennis, de netwerken, etc.). Het gaat om de ruil van andere types kapitaal dan alleen geld door de deelnemers uit sectoren als bedrijfsleven, kennisinstellingen, overheid, bibliotheek.  Denk ook aan de overeenkomst met de (her)opkomst van de coöperaties, waar het ook gaat om het gevoel van verbinding.

In de huidige maatschappij hebben we middel en doel omgedraaid: we denken dat we geld nodig hebben om samen te werken, het is een doel op zichzelf geworden.  Het geeft zoveel energie om gelijkgestemden tegen te komen in fora als de Pathfinders. Er ontstaat wel business uit, maar niet met als direct doel om geld te verdienen, maar om iets bij te dragen aan de maatschappij.  De kracht van de Pathfinders is dat het om social innovation in de praktijk gaat (“we moeten elkaars taal leren”), terwijl het tot voor kort het vaak nog steeds een erg bestuurlijk, abstract concept was.  Zo’n aanpak leidt tot allerlei verrassende, onvoorspelbare uitkomsten. De Social Innovation Week is mede voortgekomen uit de Pathfinders. Als onderdeel van deze week zijn nu 135 studenten van Fontys bezig met “Maak TIlburg Beter”. Wat daar de commerciële waarde van is, weten we niet, maar dat er iets uit gaat komen, is zeker!

Hoe maak je dit strategisch/systemisch, hoe schaal je dit op, zonder dat je de opgewekte energie verliest? Hierbij komen allerlei vragen op. Hoe verbind je lokale initiatieven met het bestuurlijke circuit?  Ook zijn er allerlei grote ontwikkelingen zoals social media die op mensen af komen. Wat betekenen deze ontwikkelingen voor de mensen persoonlijk?  Is bij social innovation sturing nodig, of gaat het juist om zelf de agenda te bepalen? Is het toch mogelijk om iets van structuur hebben om dit te catalyseren?

Continue reading “Een social innovation ecosysteem voor Midden-Brabant”

Social Innovation Meetup: “Exploring Labs for Social Change” – presentation notes

130425_Social Innovation MeetupOn April 25, Social Innovation Meetup #4, organized by Hivos and Kennisland, was held in Amsterdam. Theme: “Exploring Labs for Social Change”.  Social innovation labs are very popular as instruments for “changing the system”. However, what actually happens in these labs? How do they help accomplish social change? What’s in “the black box”?

Keynote speakers sharing innovation stories from Kenya, Finland, and Canada were Daudi Were of Ushahidi, Marco Steinberg of the Helsinki Design Lab and Vanessa Timmer of One Earth. In the two days prior to the meetup, representatives of living labs (hubs, experimental learning spaces, etc.) from all over the world gathered in “Lab2“.  Together, these people in the vanguard explored new examples and solutions for system change, some of which were reported at the meetup.  There was also supposed to be a panel discussion to see how their lessons learnt might apply to the Dutch context, but unfortunately that part was cancelled.
The presentations were brief and intense, relaying a flurry of interesting ideas and references. Like at the “Designing Social Cities of Tomorrow” workshop last year, I took presentation notes. They are rough, and only minimally edited, although I have added some links and excerpts from the sites linked to. Together, I think these notes give a nice overview of the many dimensions experienced at the international front lines of real social innovation.
Introduction 
A brief introductory speech was given by Remco Berkhout of Hivos.  There are many tough global problems, like climate change, for which there are no clearcut solutions. Hivos believes that citizen action is key to addressing these problems. People from all over the world are involved in such processes of social innovation. There are many interpretations of what is social innnovation: any idea that makes the world better, creativity of communities to make things better, popukar participation, with resources going to the communities, and so on. The silos need to go. Cities in the south can be great sources of inspiration. Given the pressing problems, labs there are often much more advanced than here in the West!
Daude Were (Ushahidi, Kenya)
In 2007, all hell broke loose after the Kenyan elections, resulting in many riots and murders. Many stories were un(der)reported. We needed to find stories of what was happening, curate them, map them, and archive them. Ushahidi was born, very quickly, in a couple of days. Ushahidi means “witness” or “testimony”. It really is a platform + community + movement.  The basic idea: from people in need to people who help. Does it work? Yes, it’s use has spread way beyond Kenya,  e.g. during the Haiti earthquake  and the Japanese tsunami the platform was used as an emergency platform. By now, it has got many other uses, including mapping harassments, oil spills, social revolutions (Arab Spring, Occupy), and monitoring elections (Tanzania and Zambia), mapping the different reasons why people voted in the Canadian elections, and so on. It is changing the way info flows in the world. How? We meet you where you are (in creating a great diversity of interfaces for sending to and receiving info from the platform). Both high-end applications (for decision makers) and low-end applications (to reach the masses) are important. In an emergency, you can have it set  up in only a few minutes (via crowdmap.com). It’s “Made in Africa”: “if it works here, it will work anywhere in the world :-)”.
We created iHub. Nairobi’s Innovation Hub for the technology community is an open space for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area. This space is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers, designers and researchers.  It is a place to physically meet, partner up, share ideas, get exposure and support. We have over 9,000 members. It’s much more than just another cybercafe: over 40 companies have come out of it in the past few years.  We also have a number of initiatives designed to build an ecosystem around the Kenyan tech entrepreneur: Hub Research, iHub Consulting, iHub Supercomputing Cluster, and the iHub User Experience (UX) Lab. iHubs are started all over the country.

Continue reading “Social Innovation Meetup: “Exploring Labs for Social Change” – presentation notes”

“Designing Social Cities of Tomorrow” workshop – presentation notes

On February 17, the international  “Social Cities of Tomorrow” conference was held in Amsterdam. Prior to this conference, a three-day “Designing Social Cities of Tomorrow” workshop was held in which international participants from various professional backgrounds collaborated with local stakeholder organisations on 4 real-world urban cases: Urban Pioneers Zeeburgereiland (Amsterdam), Haagse Havens (The Hague), Strijp-S (Eindhoven), and Amsterdam Civic Innovator Network. On February 16, the results of this workshop were presented in a sold-out hall. Fortunately, I managed to get one of the last tickets. I was particularly interested in this workshop, as I thought it might generate some concrete ideas to help us co-create the new Tilburg Spoorzone. I was not disappointed, and really very pleased with the overall quality, originality, and feasibility of the ideas.

For the first three cases, quite detailed “how to do it” plans were unfolded, the presentation of the fourth case focused on the theoretical underpinnings of a civic innovator network. A good summary by Laurent Hubeek of the presentations  of case 1 & 2 can be found here, that of case 3 & 4 here. I took detailed notes during the case presentations. They’re rather rough, but I include them here to capture the atmosphere and as an additional recording of the insights presented. Hopefully they help to inspire further thinking.


Introduction

Hi-tech is increasingly influencing life in today’s cities.  “Smart Cities” are hot.  The main problem with these visions: where are the people?! Can we use the same hi-tech to make the cities more social instead of (just) smart? The key question therefore is:  How can we use digital technologies to make our cities more social, rather than just more hi-tech?
Social cities: it’s not about a blueprint, but a design approach. It’s a way of thinking about cities that are highly technological, but which is not about the technology itself,  but about the people. Now,  how do you design for social cities? How do you engage and empower publics (groups of people) to act on communally shared issues?
The digital element leads to a qualitative shift:
  • There’s a new resource: the data the city is generating
  • Name issues in new ways, discover patterns, bring up/visualize new issues in ways you couldn’t do before
  • Engage people, give them a new sense of place (e.g. storytelling, urban gaming)
  • Ways how we organize ourselves: peer-to-peer organization around issues

Taking this into account, the questions posed to the teams were:

  • How can we get citizens to feel they belong and feel that the city belongs to them as well?
  • How do we design for ‘ownership’?
Case 1: TEMPLoT (= temporary plot)
 
Municipalities are plagued by having many unused vacant parcels.  Zeeburgereiland Amsterdam is a typical case. However, most of Europe is dealing with same issues. Key idea: “temporary” could become the stimulus.
Nothing is happening on Zeeburgereiland, it is literally a no go zone. The city idea was to make it available as a 10 year-lease for 1 euro. Why not make it much more temporary:  what  if the urban pioneer was only given the land for 365 days instead of 10 years? The temp architecture initiative wants experts to meet some place to advise new urban pioneers to do something “tomorrow”. These expert roles are: owner, developer, designer, manager. However, what if the urban pioneers are the experts? Individuals could start playing those roles themselves. To do so, maybe these urban pioneers don’t need a place but a platform? This system consisting of a website plus apps could be TEMPLoT.
Zeeburgereiland = 3,6 ha plot minus 15% infrastructure. Possible uses: Recreation? Entertainment, Amusement, Do Nothing? As the area is sandwiched between superdense neighbourhoods: what if its main use were a garden? It could provide a temp infrastructure consisting of private parcels, plus an area for a larger community “Contribution Zone”. Flex spaces  would be adjacent to private spaces, which can help in the building of mini communities. Manage the collective usage online via TEMPLoT.
Follow the seasonal life cycle: in December, start planning the temp infrastructure, in January, do the bidding process, after that the building and planting etc., use summer for enjoying festivals, then in October/November, do the clean up process. Coordination can happen online. The flex space is the negotiation space (through bidding) between the neighbours. Contribution zone: everybody has to contribute something there (time, energy, skills & knowledge, teaching, network, etc.). These contributions are visible in your online profile, so your neighbors know your involvement. Potential individual uses: relaxation, family plot, artist studio, etc.
 
Stakeholder organization response:
 
It for sure is possible. It could become a way of “citymaking”. Should not only be gardens, however, the area could also be used in another way. A potential problem is that  people like it so much that they don’t want to leave? Also, the app used in the plotting process should be simple. What if it would also allow pioneers to change plot? Would be great if it could also help to increase the skills of participants.
Impressed by the “back to basics” approach. This is refreshing, as city design has become so (unnecessarily) complex these days. Nice it’s so hands-on.
Commitment:  the tender for Zeeburgereiland is already out, we could add this digital approach. Every city in Europe has such a map of vacant plots. Many other cities could also apply this approach: investigate how other cities can be involved?
 
Audience response: 
 
There’s a similar project in Ghent, Belgium. It’s about gardens, people could buy it with invented city currency, so that everybody could afford a plot, also those without money. You put in your effort and got the virtual currency. However, what was the duration of the lease? The temp focus is very important.
 

Continue reading ““Designing Social Cities of Tomorrow” workshop – presentation notes”

Meebouwen aan de Creatieve Piramide van Brabant Brein

Vorige week heb ik meegedaan met een avond van Brabant Brein in Breda. Uit “de folder“:

Brabant Brein is een unieke denktank die de creativiteit, kennis en denkkracht van Brabantse topspecialisten uit 11 sectoren en vanuit alle denkbare disciplines bundelt. Dwars tegen de huidige hokjesgeest in, worden hier bruggen geslagen tussen alfa- en bètawetenschappen, de kunsten, het bedrijfsleven, de overheid, onderwijs en wetenschap. Doel van dit alles? Te komen tot een betere provincie, een betere stad, dorp, buurt, straat en huis. Kortom: om te komen tot een betere samenleving. Brabant Brein is te zien als het netwerk waarmee we ‘De Kunst van het Samenleven’ tot grote hoogte kunnen opstuwen. De structuur van dit netwerk wordt gevormd door een Brabantse vinding: de Creatieve Piramide.

Eindresultaat van een avond hard werken

Het concept van Brabant Brein om het genereren en schiften van ideeën te schalen is erg interessant. Elke deelnemer was toegewezen aan een expert groep. Ik was lid van het Team Sociale Innovatie (zie ook verslag van collega-teamlid Sjaak Evers). Eerst schreven alle deelnemers individueel een aantal ideeën op. Aan het eind kreeg iedereen 5 stickers om op de voor hen meest interessante ideeën te plakken. De 3 ideeën met de meeste stickers gingen door naar de volgende ronde.

In Ronde 2 ging men door naar een andere groep, waarin verschillende expertises waren gemixt. Zo zaten in mijn groep vertegenwoordigers van de groep “Muziek”, “Allochtonen” en “Ambtenaren”. Iedereen presenteerde kort de ideeën uit de vorige ronde, waarna weer een sessie van individueel ideeën genereren en stickeren volgde.

In Ronde 3 ging iedereen terug naar zijn of haar oorspronkelijke groep, in mijn geval dus het Team Sociale Innovatie. Nu stond de vraag “Wat  zijn de beste bijdragen voor de kunst van het samenleven vanuit de expertise van de groep?” centraal. Weer volgde een sessie van individueel ideeën genereren en stickeren.

De avond werd besloten met een plenaire sessie, waarin alle groepen hun beste ideeën presenteerden.

Na een serie van deze basisbijeenkomsten, komen weer follow-ups, waarin de teamleiders verder gaan met de verzamelde ideeën. Uiteindelijk komt er een boek en zullen alle ideeën via een website beschikbaar worden gesteld.

Een vraag die een aantal van ons zich wel stelden was dat het geheel nogal hiërarchish is. Is er wel zoiets als “het beste idee”? Het is logisch dat er een schifting van ideeën moet plaatsvinden om bijvoorbeeld provinciaal beleid op te kunnen baseren. Het zou echter ook nuttig zijn als er een soortgelijk proces wordt opgezet dat inspeelt op de inherente “Wikipedia” netwerkstructuur van de verzamelde rijkdom aan suggesties. Dit zou kunnen door provincie-breed communities van belanghebbenden te formeren die bepaalde ideeën “adopteren”.  Als er genoeg van dergelijke communities ontstaan – die met elkaar in contact komen door de vele verbindingen tussen de ideeën – kan het “maatschappelijk weefsel” van de provincie behoorlijk versterkt worden.

Via de Brabantse Innovatie Kwartiermakerscommunity (BRINK) proberen we een stukje van dat weefsel te maken. Een van de aan BRINK gerelateerde ideeën over de kunst van het samenleven werd trouwens verkozen om door te mogen gaan “in de volgende ronde”:

Noord-Brabant als laboratorium van de “Maatschappij van de Toekomst” waarin volop wordt geëxperimenteerd met oplossingen voor complexe, organisatie-overstijgende problemen als vergrijzing, milieuvervuiling, integratie enz. Brabant heeft hiervoor uitstekende “faciliteiten”: een groot aantal verschillende stakeholders met veel verschillende expertise, een zeer gevarieerde economie, een informele cultuur, bereidheid tot samenwerken, enz. Geleerde lessen zouden vervolgens als voorbeeld kunnen dienen voor andere provincies en regio’s in Europa.

“It’s the Conversation, Stupid!” – Social media systems design for open innovation communities

On November 5, the Swedish Open Innovation Forum organized a “Managing Open Innovation Technologies” workshop at Uppsala University, to present and discuss state-of-the-art research insights into open innovation & social media and for authors working on an anthology on this topic to get feedback on their draft chapters. It was a very lively meeting, generating lots of ideas for new research. Concluding, it was clear there’s still a very long way to go for social media to realize their full potential in this domain.

At the workshop, I gave a keynote on social media systems design for open innovation communities:

After that, my good friend and co-author Mark Aakhus (Rutgers University, USA), reflected upon what I said.  Mark wasn’t physically present, but participated from his study at his home in New Jersey, 6000 km away. Of course, I have been in many videoconferencing sessions, but normally these are cumbersome events, requiring lots of high tech, special rooms, microphones, cameras and what not. However, this time none of this was needed. All we used was a Mac and Skype. As Mark was presenting, he was displayed larger-than-life on the main screen using the projector:

Mark Aakhus presenting

Reception was crystal clear, he could hear everything being said, even in the back of the room. Things really got weird after he was finished.  The laptop was left on the table, and Mark’s image removed from the screen when other people used it to present their Powerpoints. However, once in a while, suddenly, the laptop started speaking, as Mark commented on something being said. The funny thing was that we all quickly got used to that situation, looking at and talking to a laptop as if it were a human being. Still, sometimes, Mark/the laptop would suddenly make a sound, and the whole flow of the conversation was disrupted, nobody quite sure what to make of it. A very strange and powerful experience of, literally, “extreme computer-mediated communication”!